Maria Govan, a screenwriter and director from the Bahamas, has won the first-ever Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion and pitch competition, presented by the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) in association with RBC Royal Bank, the Festival’s leading sponsor. Govan edged out five other filmmakers with her pitch for a film she intends on making called Epiphany. Her efforts won her a cash prize of TT$20,000.
Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion was a workshop conceived to help emerging Caribbean filmmakers enhance their creative voice. A call for entries went out from the ttff across the region. From over 30 submissions received, 12 filmmakers—from Aruba, the Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago—were selected to participate.
Focus took place over three days at the outset of the ttff/11, which ran from 21 September to 04 October. The sessions were led by two experienced film-industry professionals: Venezuelan writer and director Fina Torres and Guyanese-Canadian producer and actor Damon D’Oliviera.
At the end of the three days, Torres and D’Oliviera selected six of the 12 filmmakers they deemed most ready to go on to a public pitch session. Here the participants pitched the respective film projects they worked on during Focus, to a panel comprised of members of the ttff/11 awards jury and other film-industry experts.
Govan emerged the winner with her project, Epiphany, the story of a young Greek-Bahamian woman who is at odds with her close-knit, conservative community.
“Focus was an incredible experience,” said Govan. “It was also incredibly helpful to articulate my vision for Epiphany. Then to receive such affirmation for the story I want to tell was just really inspiring!
“Thanks to RBC Royal Bank for offering such a meaningful cash prize. I will be able to spend time focused on writing the next draft of my script.”
As part of her prize Govan also received a trip, all expenses, paid, to the upcoming Bahamas International Film Festival. As she is from the Bahamas, Govan has decided to pass on the prize to another Focus participant, Kevin Adams of T&T.
The ttff, which has taken place annually since 2006, is a celebration of the best in cinema from the Caribbean, its Diaspora, and Latin American countries in the Caribbean basin. The Festival is presented by Flow and is supported by the Trinidad & Tobago Film Company, the National Gas Company, the Tourism Development Company, bpTT and the Tobago House of Assembly. For more information visit www.ttfilmfestival.com.
Photo: Maria Govan presents the idea for her film, Epiphany, during the pitch session of Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion